Tips for small businesses on recovering from natural disasters
It’s been 25 years since a Category 5 hurricane struck the United States, and Irma recently became the fourth storm of that strength to barrel into the states.
In addition to people’s homes, Irma hit local Florida businesses hard, especially small businesses. Any natural disaster – whether flood, wind, fire or earthquake – can cause business continuity problems. For small businesses, even one day of lost revenue can have a devastating effect on revenue, payroll, jobs, and more. Here are a few ways small businesses can be as prepared as possible for natural disasters and do their best to limit business interruption:
- Have an internal communications plan for your entire organization – whether you employ 5 people or 50 people, phone trees are a great way to make sure everyone is accounted for and has the latest information during a crisis.
- Have technical capabilities for employees to work remotely so that in case your store or facility is badly damaged, your organization can still be connected and working on things that can be managed off-site.
- Make sure your business insurance policy covers all aspects of business interruption – not just damage and outage impacts. If a natural disaster is headed your way, contact your insurer before impact to work out a recovery plan.
- Make sure your business data, backups, applications, and server images are stored off-site.
Technology and Disaster Preparedness
One way to minimize impact of a natural disaster on your business is by moving it to the cloud. With your business on the cloud, you don’t have to worry about physical damage to your system or data server. Because a cloud service provider has data centers at multiple locations, it continuity from other servers if one gets hit by a hurricane or any other calamity. Here are suggestions for putting that in place.
- Plan for the worst: It may never happen, but you need a crisis plan that accounts for all possible outcomes – even the worst. Ask important, but tough, questions like: If my physical location is destroyed, how would I handle my business’s data? How would I recover it? How long would it take? How do I keep my business running if I can’t recover anything?
- Invest in redundancy: Redundant data backups are easier now than ever before. Cloud backups are a popular and cost-effective method. Don’t settle for just one copy of your data in a single data center. Be sure you have redundant backups because you never know when Murphy’s Law (“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”) may kick in.
- Designate a Disaster Recovery Czar: One person in your organization should manage all your backup and disaster recovery (BDR) activities. It is this person’s responsibility to plan, test, and execute the BDR plan.
- Implement and test: Disaster recovery actions are not useful if they don’t work. Create and execute a testing plan to ensure that all data is being backed-up correctly and that data can be restored from the backups.
There’s no way to know when disaster will strike, but you can do your best to plan for the unthinkable. If you have the resources to put a disaster recovery plan in place, do it today, even if you think you’ll never need it. If you don’t have internal resources available to put the proper backups and crisis procedures in place, reach out to a your cloud service provider who can make sure you are not one of the small businesses that never recover after a disaster strikes.
Risk mitigation, planning and preparation will help protect you, your business and employees during any natural disaster. Now is the time to prepare your business disaster and recovery plan. This is also the time to reevaluate your insurance needs. Consider the possibility of purchasing business income interruption insurance, this will help you meet your financial obligations during the rebuilding process. Purchase and organize any supplies that might help protect your facility and your employees in a disaster. You should also take this time to develop and test your plan. Planning and preparation are major fortifications against the hurricane devastation, and are the key to a speedy and successful recovery. Speak to us for more details.
Learn more about various types of natural disasters and what they can mean for your business. Most importantly, be safe!